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Jesse Friedman files defamation suit against Nassau DA Kathleen Rice

Jesse Friedman at a news conference at State

Jesse Friedman at a news conference at State Supreme Court in Mineola on June 24, 2013. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Jesse Friedman filed a lawsuit Thursday against Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, claiming she defamed him by alleging that he was "a psychopath" who possessed pornography while serving a state prison sentence in the 1980s for sexually molesting children.

A report released by Rice's office in June 2013 concluded after a three-year review of the former Great Neck man's case that he had been justifiably convicted. It cited a psychiatric report that called him a "narcissist and psychopath," and her report said he possessed pornography while in prison, including sexually charged stories he had written himself.

The lawsuit, filed in state Supreme Court in Mineola by attorney Ron Kuby, named Rice as a defendant, as well as two of her assistants who dealt with the media, John Byrne and Shams Tarek. The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages, and attorneys' fees.

Rice spokesman Paul Leonard said in a statement, "We view this lawsuit as meritless and will defend zealously against its allegations."

The lawsuit said the psychiatric report was prepared by "a novice psychologist" and contained unsubstantiated allegations. In court last August, Nassau prosecutors acknowledged that prison officials had acquitted Friedman of possessing pornography.

"Defendants went out of their way to disseminate the falsities, not only in the Rice Report, but by intentionally inducing . . . national and local articles to broadly and deeply inflict harm on the plaintiff," the lawsuit said.

The original child sex abuse case against Friedman and his father Arnold generated wide publicity at the time of the investigation and trial, and it got renewed attention in 2003 with the release of a documentary, "Capturing the Friedmans," which suggested the men were falsely accused by overzealous prosecutors three decades ago when there was a national "hysteria" about child abuse cases.

Separately, an appeals court is considering a ruling by Justice Dana Winslow of state Supreme Court in Mineola that required Rice to open virtually all the prosecution's files to Friedman's attorneys, who are trying to overturn his conviction.

During the proceedings before Winslow last August, Nassau prosecutors acknowledged Friedman's acquittal on the pornography charges for the first time.

The Friedmans pleaded guilty in 1988 to sexually abusing more than a dozen young boys who took computer classes in their Great Neck home. Arnold Friedman was 64 when he killed himself in prison in 1995. Jesse Friedman, now 44 and living in Connecticut, served 13 years and was paroled in 2001.

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